The Source Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with “Black Nativity” star Jacob Latimore. The Fox Searchlight film is now playing!
Film Synopsis: In a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ celebrated play, the holiday musical drama “Black Nativity” follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett). Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with his new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family.
Q: How did you get involved with”Black Nativity”?
JL: Actually, the first film I did, called, “Vanishing on 7th Street” one of the producers that worked on that film, also worked on this film “Black Nativity”. She just highly recommended my name for the auditions. I put myself on tape and it came out successful.
Q: This is a big role for you. Can you tell me about the audition process?
JL: You know what? Actually, it was no different than any other. I read the entire script first. I feel like sometimes when you’re auditioning for a character, you have to read the whole script to get a feel of the character and the people surrounding the character, as well. So you just build that character, that emotion, and that was really cool to do. I just put my all into it.
Q: Where did your passion for acting come from because you started out as a singer?
JL: I’m still continuing to do music, but acting sort of just came up. I’ve always looked up to great actors I love great shows on TV. I love great movies. I’ve always been a big fan of movies, so I don’t know if that helped out in my younger age coming up as a young actor now. I don’t know how it came up because I’ve never really took any acting classes that much. I took a few, but very brief and it was just awesome. It was something I was willing to try. It’s going pretty successful for me. It’s awesome.
Q: So were you excited when you found out that Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and Jennifer Hudson were playing your family?
JL: I think If I wouldn’t have read the script and I knew who was already in the movie, I would have been like yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I don’t care what script, I don’t care what it is, I don’t care what I gotta say, I don’t care what I gotta do, just get me in the movie. And yeah it was awesome. Great cast, big shout outs to them, they definitely helped me out just by doing them, by being focused, by getting into character and by doing what they do everyday.
Q: Tell me about working with Forest and Angela and how you developed that relationship?
JL: Actually, a month before we started getting on film we were really just building that chemistry. We were in rehearsals everyday just because of the music that was in the film and I think it was just us being around each other and the intensity of the scenes and the rehearsals and being on camera, it brought us together. Not just our characters, but us as people, so now when we see each other…we’re so happy because it was such a cool moment, that was a cool couple of months and now were like a family, it’s awesome.
Q: Tell me about working with Tyrese. You’re a young R&B singer, he was in that place at one point. Did he give you any advice?
JL: Yeah, Tyrese is like a mentor to me. As soon as we got on set, we just kind of clicked. It really started at the table reading and we just did our parts and we just got to discussing about the film really and sort of going back and forth about the characters. Our scenes were so important for the film and it’s just so cool that we built that chemistry. We really have that bond, so now we just crack jokes with each other all the time, it’s cool.
Q: Can you tell me about working with Director Kasi Lemmons?
JL: Kasi Lemmons is incredible. She’s so focused, she’s so on point, in that she definitely helped me out as far as keeping the character very firm because Langston is more a sensitive character, but he has a hard shell around him, he tries to put up a front. Especially, he’s very strong when it comes to his mother. I think I’m more of a sensitive person in a sense, so Kasi definitely helped me out with keeping that firmness. She’d say, “Don’t go to soft on me Jacob, Don’t go soft. Don’t open up, yet.” She definitely helped me out with that because I was filming everyday, every scene and it was hard work. It was very tiring, but she definitely helped me just stay on point.
Q: Can you tell me about filming in New York? How fun was it to be in Harlem on location?
JL: It was incredible, Langston Hughes a lot of his work, his spirit is just there. If we would have filmed it anywhere else, it would have had a different tone. The film would have felt different. But I think New York was a character itself and it was awesome. I loved it.
Q: Can you tell me about bonding with Grace Gibson and Luke James, who are also both singers.
JL: Both singers, both incredible singers and I think they did a tremendous job in this film as well. Shout out to my big brother Luke James, Grace Gibson they’re awesome, we definitely clicked on set as, well. We had quite a few scenes together and it was incredible. It was amazing.
Q: What was the most challenging part for you about working on this project?
JL: The most challenging part I would say probably, the cold! It was cold. You know sometimes you go outside with a skull cap, big coat, scarf. I had on a turtleneck and a leather jacket, that was it. It was definitely cold. I think it showed in the film in a good way.
Q: I’d like to talk about you music a little bit. You started out as a singer and you have a musical family. So can you tell me about how you got your start in music?
JL: Well, I started singing professionally at the age of 9 and I got signed with RCA at the age of 13. So I put out my first single called “Like ‘Em All” featuring Diggy Simmons and I put out a few singles here and there. I did the Scream Tour with Mindless Behavior and the Number One Girl Tour so I’ve been on a few Scream Tours and stuff like that and music is something I definitely love. It’s my first love. It’s been around me since I was a kid and it’s just all around me. I love it. In this film, I’m so happy that I’m able to sort of sing, so people can hear my voice. They get a taste of my artistry in the film, which is on a platform I could me ever imagine me being on.
Q: Can you tell me about working with Raphael Saadiq on the music?
JL: He’s incredible, he’s awesome I think it was so cool in the studio because he helped me out as far as just sort of building my own creative mind in the studio. A lot of times, you’ll go in the studio a have a vocal producer tel you do this, do that, but a lot of times he would just go, “Go I’m going to play the track and you just fill it. You just go for it” That was really cool for him to do.
Q: You also have a mixtape that you just released last month called “This is me 2.”
JL: I wanted to put out some free content to my fans because I’ve been a little idle from music this past year and a half because I’ve been doing films this whole year and sometimes those films can have you away for months and months and months at a time. I wanted people to hear the growth and I wanted it to be some relatable music. Relatable relationship music and that was something was last minute, in house producers and writers which was great and it think it’s a really really solid mixtape. I did a lot of listening parties and people said “It sounds like an album Jacob.” That’s great and that’s what I want people to hear.
Q: You also have a collaboration with Yo Gotti called “He Aint I” on your new mixtape. Tell me about working with him and how that came about?
JL: Actually Yo Gotti, was free of charge let me say that because that was so cool. I was looking for a price. I was ready to budget something out. It was great he hopped on it and I was shocked and it’s a great record. It’s relevant to how music is sounding nowadays and I think it was really cool that me and him built that bond on the track.
Q: Tell me about your favorite scene in “Black Nativity”?
JL: That’s a really hard question. I feel everyone was very very intense and very great. Maybe the church scene because actually the crying scene the big big open up from Langston showing his passion for his family…I cried at least twenty times because it was so many angles, it was so many people and we shot that millions of times, but I think it’s really hard to choose because every moment was so great.
Q: What’s coming up next for you?
JL: I’m actually in Kevin Hart’s new film “Ride Along” with Ice Cube. I have a cameo in that. Me and Kevin Hart have a really really funny scene. I saw it not too long ago and it’s just hilarious. He’s just a goof ball and he’s one of my favorite comedians, so I’m really excited I’m able to just even be in a film with him. That’s awesome. I have a film called “The Maze Runner” coming out next year in September and an official single at the top of the year. I’m really really excited about it. Go get “This is Me Volume 2” just to listen to until the official single!
While Jacob was in New York to promote “Black Nativity,” on November 21, 2013, he hosted an exclusive listening party at the trendy “Sony Wonder Technology Lab” in midtown Manhattan. Guests enjoyed refreshments as they awaited the arrival of the young star. At approximately 7 p.m., Jacob Latimore arrived and kicked the night off with the second track off his new mixtape called “He Ain’t I” featuring rapper Yo Gotti. The song has a very upbeat nightclub feel, which is complimented by 808 drums and a dope verse from Yo Gotti. “This next track is more of who I am,” said Jacob Latimore before playing “Switch It Up,” a slower and more mature track produced by Sauce Boys. Sickpen wrote the third track “Take it Or Leave It,” which was followed by “Try Me”, “Let Em go” featuring Slice 9, and “What Are You Waiting For”, to name a few. Jacob performed “Just Might Kiss You,” which is not on the mixtape, but is of one of his personal favorites. Before saying good night, the heartthrob took some requests from the audience. A group of young female fans requested track 9 one of the more pop friendly songs from “This Is Me 2” called “New Girl.” The night ended with the mixtape bonus track “This Christmas” featuring family members Kenny Latimore and the Latimore brothers. Jacob stuck around to take pictures with fans and thank everyone for coming out to support him. The night was a success and Jacob Latimore did not disappoint.